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Shaxi Friday Market Posted by on Jan 26, 2016 in Culture

As I mentioned in the post about the Ancient Town of Shaxi, there’s a great outdoor market that goes on every Friday. Yunnan is one of the most diverse provinces in all of China, second only to Xinjiang in terms of how many ethnic minority groups are represented – there are 47 in Xinjiang and 25 in Yunnan. In Shaxi, the two main ethnic groups are the Bai (白族 – bái zú) and Yi (彝族- yí zú) people. Although they live close together and are all technically Chinese, the ethnic minority groups have distinct languages and cultures – oftentimes people on opposite sides of a mountain speak an entirely different language.

Shaxi Friday market

The streets are packed on Friday.

Once upon a time, the town was a large market place every day, as it was an important stop on the Old Tea Horse Caravan Road. These days the market only goes on once a week, which makes it a big deal for people living in the surrounding villages. Every Friday, people will trek down from their mountainous villages to the town, dressed in their colorful, traditional clothing, leading pack mules, and carrying large baskets on their back. Just about everything is for sale at the Friday market – fresh produce, meat, fish, daily items, and even electronics. You can even get a wig made or see a dentist on the side of the street. Walking through the market is quite the experience, and is tons of fun for photographers. Here’s a glimpse into this traditional Yunnan marketplace through my lens:

Produce truck and seafood vendor.

Produce truck and seafood vendor.

The preferred method of transporting goods.

The preferred method of transporting goods.

Loads of fresh produce can be bought here.

Loads of fresh produce can be bought here.

Ethnic minority jewelry for sale.

Ethnic minority jewelry for sale.

A vendor preparing her table for the day.

A vendor preparing her table for the day.

People walk for hours just to come here.

People walk for hours just to come here.

Gossiping and smoking - two favored pastimes here.

Gossiping and smoking – two favored pastimes here.

Most of the vendors are elderly women who still make the trek here.

Most of the vendors are elderly women who still make the trek here.

Children helping out with the shopping.

Children helping out with the shopping.

China ethnic minority handicrafts.

More colorful handicrafts for sale.

Vendors hard at work.

Vendors hard at work.

These ladies have been coming here for years and years.

These ladies have been coming here for years and years.

Very colorful traditional clothing.

Very colorful traditional clothing.

A butcher with a freshly sliced pig on display.

A butcher with a freshly sliced pig on display.

Yep, that person is carrying a fridge.

Yep, that person is carrying a fridge.

How about a pig's head?

How about a pig’s head?

The Friday market sure is tiring.

The Friday market sure is tiring.

Experiencing the Friday market is definitely a highlight of visiting Shaxi, so be sure to plan your visit accordingly. It starts in the morning between 9-10, and things usually wind down by about 2.

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.


Comments:

  1. Alastair:

    He is NOT carrying a fridge, it is a Washing Machine.!!


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